The Bridge is a new, purpose-built wellbeing and mental health hub based on the Warlingham School & Sixth Form College site.
Tandridge Learning Trust has a commitment to support wellbeing and mental health within all school communities, and whilst The Bridge is physically located on the Warlingham site, next door to Hamsey Green Primary, its services and facilities are available to support all schools within Tandridge Learning Trust.
The impact of the pandemic upon the student body has been substantial and wide-ranging and, while academic learning has suffered to a degree, it is in the pastoral needs, behaviour and mental health and wellbeing of students that the impact has been most keenly felt. As is the case nationally, according to the statistics, the increase in demand within our schools over the last two years has meant that we have to devote more resources to this area to meet the need.
The Bridge is available to provide timely and accessible wellbeing intervention to students, including a full-time counselling programme as well as specialist provision for post-16, individual and group interventions and input from external services including Learning Space, Barnado’s and Surrey Mindworks.
We also intend to facilitate Mental Health First Aid training for staff and members of the local community, provide additional counselling and therapeutic support for adults and learners in our trust primary schools and, ideally, house trust-employed specialists in educational psychology and other hard-to-access areas of need.
As the national, regional and local support services have been stretched very thinly due to increased demands for their services, all local schools have been affected - as ours have been. Therefore, we plan to set up a small team which would directly benefit not just our own pupils but also pupils in neighbouring schools, which could support the employment of a specialist team. The hub could also facilitate creating a role and providing a location for a dedicated Trust inclusion officer.
The types of mental health issues we are now seeing and will be supporting, include:
- Addiction to mobile phones causing sleep issues and anxiety
- Anxiety associated with SEND, particularly Autistic Spectrum
- Attachment disorders
- Auditory hallucinations
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder
- Depression and low mood
- Drug-induced psychosis
- Eating disorders
- Emotionally-based school non-attendance (EBSNA)
- Home issues including bereavement, domestic violence and long-term illness or disability
- Identified mental health issues including OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and Bipolar Disorder
- Issues around gender identity
- Long term illness
- Panic attacks
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Self Esteem issues
- Stress around social media
- Suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideation
We will also provide support to looked-after children and young carers.
The Bridge team, led by Beth Hunt, Warlingham's SENDCO, has been working with Surrey Mindworks and an Education Psychologist to develop the provision. There are two trained counsellors, based at the hub, who triage support for our secondary school students and who are currently training to extend their skills to be able to work with all ages, including nursery, primary and parents.
Once The Bridge is established, we will also develop its services to cover out-of-school hours to provide mental health and wellbeing related services to parents and our local community. This will include Mental Health First Aid training, but will also involve sessions provided to parents to support them in meeting the social and emotional needs of their children, alongside parental and local community support networks focused on mental health and wellbeing. This aligns well with the letting of many of our schools’ facilities for physical activity as part of a wider wellbeing offer for our local community.
Tandridge Learning Trust has been consulting parents, to gain feedback on what services are most relevant for our whole community. We are very grateful to the parents who have engaged in this process. It will help us to shape the development of The Bridge.